Did the Toronto Maple Leafs miss an opportunity with Jason Demers?

SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 04: Jason Demers
SUNRISE, FL - JANUARY 04: Jason Demers /

After it was announced that Jason Demers was traded to the Arizona Coyotes, many are wondering if teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs missed an opportunity.

It has been a tough go for Florida Panthers fans this offseason. After losing top goal scorers Reilly Smith and Jonathan Marchessault to the Vegas Golden Knights before the expansion draft, the team then made another puzzling move on Sunday.

Not only did Florida trade a top four defenceman for a winger with nine goals and 17 assists in 72 games last season but they also retained 12.5 per cent of Demers’ contract.

The 29-year old has four more years left at $4.5-million a season and had 28 points in 81 games while averaging 19:37 of ice time. Either Florida had to cut back on salary or maybe they had higher expectations for Demers?

So where do the Leafs come into play? Well it is no secret that the Leafs were looking to make a move for a right-handed top four defenceman. There were reports suggesting that Toronto was interested in Travis Hamonic who was moved to the Calgary Flames for draft picks.

While Hamonic would have been a great pickup for the Leafs, it looks like there could have been a nice backup option with Dermers.

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While Ron Hainsey came over as a free agent with a lower cost ($3.6-million cap hit), Toronto might have been able to make both players work or not need to have Hainsey at all. Demers is regarded as an efficient puck mover, brings some physicality, offensive ability and mobility on the right side.

To sum it up, he is the type of player that prefers to spend more time not defending in his own zone which is a positive. Unfortunately, Demers did have a modified no trade clause but there is no way of knowing whether the Leafs were interested in adding him.

He would have made a nice pairing with Morgan Rielly and it probably would have only cost the Leafs a winger of equal value to Jamie McGinn. The team has more than enough wingers than they know what to do with it.

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Now the team is hoping that Hainsey can be the steady veteran presence with Rielly and depending on how things with with Demers in Arizona, they may have gotten a steal from the Panthers.